Sunday, October 25, 2015

Some days are just bad ones.  You started out good, you woke up.  Then you hurried into your usual routine to try to get everything done and be on time to the places you needed to be.  You don't have time to think or worry because you are on the time clock.  But then someone says some comment to you and you think huh... I don't think that was a compliment.  You go on.. still trying to decipher the message accurately.  While that is still simmering on the back burner, you run into an old friend, who looks fabulous.  Suddenly, the previous comment and your friend looking fabulous collide and you don't feel so good about yourself.  You see all the time lines looking back at you in the mirror and you sink a little lower.  But you still have so much to do, you can't get bogged down with reality.  And on you go, on your feet all day, can't wait to get home and rest for a minute.  And then you walk through the door and see the clothes on the couch that need to be folded, the dishes that have piled up since breakfast, the shoes and backpacks left strung across the kitchen floor.  Take a breath, you are going to get through this.  Then come the kids.  "Mom.. I'm starving!  What is there to eat?"  (You didn't make it to the store, so now you will have to think up something creative they will have to actually make, like a sandwich.)  You suggest it, that doesn't sound good to them.  So you continue suggesting ideas until they finally decide to come look in the fridge themselves.  Then "Mom, I need this signed.. Mom can my friend come over?"  (I'm thinking...have you seen the house lately?) "Mom, when are you making dinner?"  And that little rest moment you thought you were going to have is over and you start thinking about what to make for dinner before the family dies of starvation.  Then dinner is on the table, the family is fed and clean up begins.  After clean up ends, then you realize the kids are watching tv and not doing their homework.  Turn off the tv, enforce homework, as you listen to the youngest one read to you, you nod off and wake up just in time for the ending and now it's time to gather for family scripture and prayer and hugs everyone is off to bed.  You realize you still have your own homework to do, but you are exhausted, you'll just get up tomorrow at 4 a.m. instead of 5 a.m. to try to catch up. You crawl into bed and reflect back on the day and all you can remember were the unkind words and how old you are and how you didn't make it to the store and how the clothes still need folding on the couch.  It's been a day.

 Every day, especially the bad ones, we just need to pause for a minute and take a breath and maybe another, but not too many because you got things to do, but stop and think about the good.  Think about the blessings.  Count at least 5 that happened that day.  Even on my worst days,  I could still find five things to be grateful for. 

And today the blessing I count is my Dad.  He passed away 5 years ago today.  I'm so thankful for the time I had with him.  My life has been immeasurably blessed because of him. In previous years when I got to this day, sadness would creep in and tears would fall.  But this year, I look back and am just thankful I had him in my life.  I couldn't have asked for a better Dad. Yes, there are still tears and yes I still need him, but undeniably gratitude is the overarching feeling in my heart.

On the very bad day that I  had this week, I remember walking by Christmas decorations in the store.  Usually those trinkets are just reminders of all the shopping and exhaustion that are coming my way and cause me to cringe, avert my eyes, turn my cart and run.  But instead of doing that, a thought of my Dad came and how he would have looked at these decorations and gotten excited, probably would have gone home and put on Christmas music and lit the firecplace.  I smiled.  The thought of him was the greatest blessing I counted that day.  Thank you Lord for giving me my Dad and for all the memories of him that I still get to cherish.

May we go forward in the battle of life counting our blessings, naming them one by one and may we be grateful for what the Lord has done

Sunday, October 18, 2015

They Cared- and it showed.

The cop's lights were flashing as he slowly led the procession to my Grandpa's final resting spot.  I was back in the town where I grew up, Ada, Oklahoma.  The place where funeral processions are still led with a police escort and where many drivers still pull over to pay their respects.

 The last time I witnessed this phenomenon was 32 years ago at my Grandma's funeral, which took place in the same country town.  I didn't expect to see people still pull over to show they cared in this day and age, where everyone is in a rush to get to where they need to be.  Tears streamed down my face with each driver I saw pulled over, most of them in pick up trucks.

I thought about my own life and how busy it is, every time I get in a car I'm in a hurry.  I have places to go and things to do.  These people did too and yet,  they still pulled over to show they cared and I felt it deeply.  My brother and I wept as we passed vehicle after vehicle pulled over to the side of the road to pay their respects. They didn't know my Grandpa and they didn't know us, but that didn't stop them from feeling for what we were going through.

It made me look inward.  Was I that kind of person?  Do I put others first?  Do I stop when someone is in need?  Do I notice the person behind me and keep the door open for them?   Do I observe others and their daily struggles and do something that shows I care?

I realized my personal struggle to reach out to others was one of fear.  I feared I wouldn't say the right thing, or that they would reject my help and I would feel dumb or I would do something that offended them or they would cling on to me so tightly they would suck the life out of me.  So to be many instances... I did nothing.  But I learned doing nothing helps no one.  We have to step out of our comfort zone and step into the shoes of another and feel what they are feeling to know better how to help each other.

My heart was touched over and over with the kind gestures I witnessed with my Grandpa's passing.  The flowers sent by loved ones, seeing my cousins Scott/ Carolyn & Karen's name made me cry.  It wasn't their Grandpa who died, but that didn't stop them from showing they cared.  My friends, Julie and Debbie who drove from OKC to be there, it wasn't convenient they had to hurry back to their jobs right after the funeral, but they came anyway to pay their respects. To the ward members, friends,  Edna Mae, & the senior missionary couple who stopped by and brought meals- it meant a lot.  To my Mom, cousins and siblings, they all had to take time off work, make arrangements for their families while they were gone, not to mention the cost, they still came. And I cried when I heard about my cousin Susan who came and spent the last days with him, playing her guitar and singing by his bedside.  And my cousin Liz who couldn't come but spent hours writing the most beautiful and fitting eulogy for Grandpa. And to Steve, who spent the week at his sister's to give us his house so we could all be together. And to the one arm bandit- a famous cousin who performs the rodeo circuit, who stopped by from his busy schedule to come over and make us laugh and celebrate life.  They cared and I know it... because they showed it.   May I do likewise.